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Christmas on a Budget

The holiday season has officially begun with the hustle and bustle of retail shopping, pulling the boxes of decorations from the garage, and families planning their seasonal meals (now if California would just drop below 78° so I could light the fireplace).

But are you nervous about spending money during the holidays? Well, if so, you are not alone. While retail sales are showing a promising sign this year, it’s my gander that people are putting a more conscientious thought into their purchases. It just means there is a frugalite in training – taking that hard earned money and finding the best buy.

A frugal holiday can still be high in cheer if you think like a pioneer, plan the holiday budget, instill some frugal fun, research some great sales and take up that free shipping. Yup, free shipping! Read all the way down for details. Check out my giant holiday post.

Pioneer Christmas

How do you have a real frugal Christmas? Think back to how our Old West ancestors celebrated – with a Pioneer Christmas.

Taking the consumerist out of the season is not easy. I really had to consider this one. With everyone so geared to opening retail gifts, is it possible to have an enjoyable simple holiday with our loved ones?

Well, I am willing to try! Here are some tips to bring you back to the roots of celebration:

  • Cooking all day. There is nothing better than having the family cook a great big meal together. It’s especially great at my aunt’s house because we cook Filipino, Mexican and a traditional American meal.
  • Use natural materials found anytime of the year, such as evergreens, pinecones, holly, nuts, and berries. The great Adirondack Christmas – simple, natural, and cozy.
  • Decorate the tree with ribbon, yarn, berries, popcorn or paper strings, and homemade decorations. Sounds like a great craft for the children to string popcorn or berries! My daughter and I are making colorful paper chains this year.
  • Give gifts of jam, preserved fruits and vegetables. If you are a crafty, make gifts of dolls, sachets, knitted scarves and hats. Gift making was a craft that lasted through the year in the pioneer days. Since I have not been so crafty this year, the farmer’s market and craft fairs will make a great place to stock up on gifts with love. Time to ponder on next year’s gift giving list.
  • Sing carols with friends and family around the Christmas tree or fireplace. I remember as a child, we used to take hayrides around the neighborhood to sing Christmas carols. What fun! Does anyone do that anymore?

Christmas Budget Worksheet

You may start realizing, as Christmas dawns, that you forgot to get a gift for Aunt Sallie or Uncle Bob. If you don’t plan accordingly, the holiday “forget me’s” can’t wreck serious havoc on your finances. Save the stress and have a merry holiday by using the Christmas Budget Worksheet by Simple Living.

Advent Calendar

With all the hard work that goes into preparing for the holiday. Make it shine each day with opening a small give from the advent calendar. Yes, even adults can enjoy a bit of chocolate or a script of love.

Last year, I finally remembered to buy my daughter an advent calendar before they were sold out. Trader Joe’s sells a great chocolate candy advent calendar every year. But, I wanted to craft an advent calendar so I could have to take out each year. So, bring a bit of frugal happiness to a person each day in December by creating a matchbox advent calendar. Those small pieces of left over scrapbooking paper or gift wrap now have a purpose!

Five unique ways to make and display them:


Plan a Christmas Dinner on a Budget

Whether you plan to host a few friends or a large gathering of family members, planning a Christmas dinner requires some thought, and a little creative shopping. Fear not. Following these tips will allow you to plan a Christmas dinner on a budget.

  • Host a potluck. Big gatherings can be expensive. Especially when everyone has a hearty holiday appetite. To stay in budget, our family hosts a potluck. The hosting family will provide the main course – usually a turkey or ham. Then family members will bring all the side dishes and desserts. It works out great, as there are always tons of left overs to take home.
  • Change the main course. A traditional thanksgiving dinner may not always the frugal choice. Consider mixing up the menu to fit within the budget. Most people will welcome the change. With my family, there is no shortage of ethnic flare.When it comes to holiday gatherings we have lumpia, enchiladas, mochi, adobo, sashimi, and a traditional turkey dinner (p.s. I have a large family and that sashimi is fresh, as my uncle is an avid fisherman).
  • Check out your cupboards. Plan your side dishes by checking out your cupboards. If you have a can of green beans, a green bean casserole could be a start. Or a can of chickpeas, you can easily make hummus for a starter. Then start looking at your grocer’s sale ads to start saving on the other necessary ingredients.

Free Shipping Day 2010

On Friday, December 17, an estimated 1,000+ participating merchants will offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. Check out Freeshippingday.com for more details.

Free shipping day isn’t the only perk. Did you know you can score unadvertised specials from 40 Merchants?

I am so happy to be able to share these unadvertised specials with you. Because fewer people know about the sale, Freeshipping.org betters their chances of closing the deal at cut-rate prices.

(Credits: freeshippingday.com, legendsofamerica.com, and inspireco)